Boundaries are essential for good mental health and healthy interpersonal relationships, romantic or otherwise. A lot of people are unsure of how to build and maintain healthy boundaries, and it is not easy for everyone to put themselves first. Setting and keeping boundaries is a skill, and it is one that everyone can learn.

Examine the Two Extremes

If you look at boundaries on a spectrum, there are two extremes. One is rarely considering what you want and putting others' needs before you own. The other is being too focused on yourself and unaware of how it affects other people. Healthy boundaries are somewhere in the middle, taking care of your own needs without isolating yourself from others.

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Think About What You Let In and Out

Boundaries are about both what you let in and what you let out. For example, some people are willing to share intimate details about their lives with anyone. While you have boundaries about what you are willing to say, you should also have boundaries about what you are willing to hear. If someone is oversharing and it makes you feel uncomfortable, you are not obligated to listen. Think about how best to deal with the oversharers in your life, whether that means avoiding them when you do not have to energy to listen or allowing them a set time and place to talk.

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Don't Assume People Know What You Need

It is important to know what you need to do to maintain good mental health, but do not assume others will automatically know what you need. Be open and honest with your loved ones about your boundaries so they know what they need to do to demonstrate respect for your choices.

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Find a Middle Path in Relationships

Finding a middle ground is essential to maintaining relationships. Firm boundaries are key to dealing with mistreatment, but in a healthy relationship, being too firm can make your partner feel isolated and like they are not getting what they need. Establishing a middle ground is a balancing act, and it can take time. Communicating with those you love is essential.

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Establish a Support System

Although it is important to set boundaries about how much you are willing to share, make sure you establish a support system for those times when you need someone to talk to. If you are feeling anxious or stressed, knowing who you can turn to for support is a healthy way to cope.

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Share Openly with Your Children

Some parents worry about revealing too much to their kids, but older children benefit from getting an honest portrait of their parents. Use discretion when choosing what to share — teenage children should not be called upon to provide emotional support to their parents — but being honest about difficult times can help cultivate a better relationship where the boundaries of both parent and child are honored.

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Consider How Much to Reveal Online

People often reveal more than they realize online. It is easy to feel pressured to share every milestone, document vacations, and post political opinions on social media, but just because everyone else is doing it doesn't mean you have to. Stay away from social media when you need to for your well-being, and only share what you are comfortable sharing.

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Slow Down to Evaluate What You Need

Sometimes, we have time to help friends when they need it. Other times, it can be too much due to a busy schedule or a lack of available emotional energy, though it is easy to feel like we are letting the important people in our lives down at these times. Take time to evaluation your needs and how you are feeling in the moment. If you need to take care of yourself before you can help other people, permit yourself to do so.

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Make Time for Self-Care

Regardless of how busy you are and how many people are demanding of your time, make time for self-care . Whether it is a long walk, a bubble bath, reading, yoga, or listening to music, doing something you enjoy to recharge your batteries helps you relax and think more clearly.

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Allow Yourself to Be Disagreeable

A lot of people have a hard time saying no, but allowing yourself to be disagreeable is essential to maintaining your boundaries. Whether you do not respond to someone who is draining your energy or you explain to a close friend that you cannot do them a favor, remember it's your right to make this choice. This also shows you who has your well-being at heart. Anyone who accepts and validates what you are saying and feeling is likely someone you can trust.

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This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.